Frozen

I’ve written about this in several other posts, but it just keeps happening!  Someone says something negative about fat, and I just mentally freeze and don’t know what to say!  And if I do say something, it’s not the right thing.  Yesterday, a friend walked by with four cookies and showed me them and said some excited words about them that I could tell were meant to entice me into eating one.  I had been feeling a little weird stomach-wise, so I wasn’t sure I wanted one, but I inspected them anyway, and once I realized that they were not actually a kind of cookie that I particularly like, I decided I definitely didn’t want one.  My friend also offered a cookie to another girl nearby, but she declined since she was at that moment eating a cupcake.  Upon learning that no one wanted one of his four cookies, my friend said “Now I look like a giant fatty!” (he is, in fact, a skinny guy).  I looked at him with a face that I hope looked confused or mad but it’s hard to tell (this is my frozen moment), and then I said “Oh, eat your cookies!” (this is my moment of knowing I needed to say something, but not knowing what that thing should be).  I wish I’d said “there’s nothing wrong with being fat, and eating four cookies is not a behavior typical only of fat people” or maybe “in studies, fat people on average don’t eat any more than thin people” or maybe “please don’t insult me by talking about fatness in a negative way”.  I know these things are always easier to think of after the fact, but I just wish that once I’ve thought of them after the fact I’d be able to put them to use the next time something happens, and thus far I haven’t been able to!  Maybe next time.

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4 Responses to Frozen

  1. Samantha C says:

    It’s really, really difficult to apply the kind of rhetoric and scientific facts we’re learning about in the fat-o-sphere to real-life situations. It’s one thing to be on the internet and keep a few articles bookmarked that have the studies handy, and be able to say, “look, that’s not true and here’s something you can read about it.” It’s really different to go up to a friend or casual acquaintance and say “studies have shown…”

    In the particular case, I think just something like “no, you don’t” might have worked. If they ask what you mean, that’s a conversation that’s been started about the other facts you mentioned, like the studies about how people eat. If he doesn’t respond, you’ve still said something. If you’re braver, you could draw attention to your own fat – “Oh, I guess no cookies means I’m skinny!” and make it clear you’re being sarcastic and pointing out the logical flaw.

    But it’s really hard in real life. You don’t want to sound like a weirdo; it’s hard to bring up anything potentially flame-y and controversial when you still want to talk to people afterward, or when you don’t want to turn the entire afternoon into a social justice discussion.

    • fattery says:

      Thanks for the perspective and the suggestions. I like the idea of saying something small that could make them questions their own statements but that won’t necessarily lead to an all-out social justice discussion. I also like the idea of a social justice discussion at times, but it’s true that smaller things can make a difference too.

  2. I think it’s really difficult to come back with the perfect response in moments like those, because we’re often filled with a myriad of feelings that make it hard to think clearly. At least for me, I notice that I feel anxiety when others make comments like this – in part because I know that I “should” say something more intelligent than what will likely come out! However, I think that sometimes words are overrated and that what matters even more is our ability to model more appropriate behavior and not react (e.g. laugh) when such comments are made.

    • fattery says:

      I really like your comment that “what matters even more is our ability to model more appropriate behavior and not react (e.g. laugh) when such comments are made”. That reminds me that I am already doing something just by not facilitating or playing into the comments. I’ve always been a very socially-adept person, meaning that I intuitively know what to say to keep things going or keep the peace in social situations (not necessarily that I don’t feel uncomfortable in them), and lately I’ve been struggling with how to NOT keep the peace.

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